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I Want to Avoid Family Court – What Alternatives Are Available?

Not many people find getting divorced in a court a pleasant experience. It can be upsetting and overwhelming, but there are some alternatives for you to explore if you and your spouse are separating. Alternatives include collaborative law, mediation, and arbitration, all of which can be suitable solutions but ultimately depend on your current situation and relationship with your spouse. If you think one of these alternatives could be an option, we recommend getting in touch with THB Legal. They’re a team of solicitors in Chelmsford and will be able to provide you with all the advice you need to come to a decision.

Mediation

There are many benefits to divorce mediation, the first being that a non-biased third party is present (known as a mediator). This professional will help you and your spouse work out your differences whilst minimising any conflict and to promote open communication. In the simplest of terms, divorce mediation is about getting together with your spouse, so you can mutually decide how your separation is going to work. It’s a far better option than going to court and is not only for the sake of you but your children too.

Divorce mediation covers issues such as assets and the distribution of property owned during marriage. But, most importantly, children arrangements. You’ll get to decide what happens during the school holidays and over the Christmas period. The process can also cover potential surname changes and rules for introducing a new partner or anything else you deem essential to get straight.

The majority of couples who opt for divorce mediation walk away feeling happy with the solutions and arrangements agreed during the process. Of course, they’ll be compromises, but both parties will be satisfied with the outcomes, and therefore the arrangements are more likely to be stuck to in the future.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is similar to mediation and involves face-to-face negotiation, but 2 solicitors are present rather than a mediator. This alternative resolution is used to settle financial issues that weren’t resolved via other avenues or to negotiate child arrangements.

This approach is a good way of avoiding the stress of going to family court whilst still having the expertise of 2 solicitors involved. However, it’s important to be aware that collaborative law can get expensive if the process ends up being drawn out and a mutual agreement can’t be made. During the process, both parties and their solicitor must be present, while counsellors may also join to support either party should it be deemed appropriate.

Once a mutual agreement has been made, a consent order will be written up and sent to a judge for their approval. This will then make the agreement legally binding and enforceable. However, despite collaborate law being a good alternative, not all couples can come to an agreement during the process. If this happens and either party wants to take further action, then the same 2 solicitors cannot work on any new case.

Arbitration

The arbitration process involves a qualified arbitrator who makes a legally binding decision based on the division of financial assets. The process itself is voluntary, but once an arbitrator makes a decision, this is legally binding and can’t be contested unless the decision can be proved to be in favour of 1 party over the other.

The arbitrator will listen to both parties, consider all evidence, and then make an impartial decision that reflects this. The process is a cost-effective solution and far cheaper than going to court in the long-run. Should you decide that this is the alternative process for you and your spouse, you must both consider the fees involved and whether it’s a viable route for you to go down.

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